Many families believe that a pet will be a valuable addition to their family, but they struggle with finding just the right fit. Adopting a pet is a big commitment, and one that every member of the family should discuss beforehand. For families with children, it is important to communicate the responsibilities that come along with having a pet in the family. It’s also important to choose a pet that fits your lifestyle. This guide will help you select the right companion for you and your family!
- Benefits: Dogs are wonderful pets that will provide you with more love and affection than you can ever imagine. There are many great pups available at local shelters and rescues, and the experts there can help match your family with the right dog—breed, size, temperament—based on your personalities and lifestyle.
- Considerations: Dogs are a lifetime commitment. Many dogs will live between 10 to 15 years, and sometimes longer. You need to commit to feeding, grooming and training your dog. Dogs also need adequate exercise and play time. You will have to vaccinate your dog and take them to regular health screenings.
- Benefits: Cats make ideal companions for many people, and are loving, devoted pets. If your family spends a lot of time at home, cats are a great option. There are almost always cats available at shelters that are looking for committed families to love them forever.
- Considerations: Cats live a long time, often longer than most dog breeds. The average domestic cat may live for 15 years or more. You need to be prepared to care for a pet for that amount of time, and give it the love and attention it deserves. A feline’s personality is not always as predictable as dogs — so you may need to be prepared for surprises after bringing home your cat.
- Benefits: In many ways, guinea pigs make a good starter pet. They are cuddly and personable, but they also live in a crate — and for some families, it’s nice to have a contained pet. Guinea pigs do not have to be purchased at a pet store, many can be adopted at a local shelter.
- Considerations: Guinea pigs may live in a cage, but they do need daily exercise — outside of it. They are very social, and most guinea pigs prefer the company of another guinea pig. It is often recommended that families adopt two at once. Their lifespan is about five to seven years, according to the Humane Society.
- Benefits: Fish are fun pets to have, because many people enjoy watching them swim around in a tank. They also are known to have a peaceful, calming effect, according to Today. Young children, in particular, enjoy fish in their home.
- Considerations: Fish seem like a relatively inexpensive pet, but their long-term care costs can add up. You must be able to maintain, and afford, the tank and supplies—such as testing kits, cleaning equipment, food and accessories. Fish do not always have a long lifespan, which can be difficult to explain to young children.
- Benefits: Reptiles are a unique option and many kids find them to be an exciting addition to the family. Living in an aquarium, these self-contained pets are ideal for families with allergies or those who aren’t interested in having pet hair on all of the furniture.
- Considerations: Reptiles are a long-term commitment, according to Reptiles Magazine. Many live for 10 years or even longer. You need to be prepared to care for this pet for a long period of time, and recognize that most reptiles will get significantly bigger as they age.
No matter what type of pet you decide on, there are many additional factors to consider before making your final decision. According to the American Animal Hospital Association, you will want to think about the cost of your future pet over the course of their lifetime, including: veterinary care, training, housing and activity level of the pet. Advancements in veterinary medicine are keeping our pets alive longer, but it also is showing a rise in veterinary costs; luckily, pet insurance is a good option to cover the veterinary expenses that your pet might incur. You should not make an impulse decision, because any type of pet will become a lifelong commitment. Only welcome a furry friend (or a scaly buddy) into your home when you feel truly ready for a new family member.